Justice Marshall, dissenting

As Justice Stevens demonstrates, the Court uses the implements of literalism to wound, rather than to minister to, congressional intent in this case. That is a dangerous usurpation of congressional power when any statute is involved. It is troubling for special reasons, however, when the statute at issue is clearly designed to give access to the federal courts to persons and groups attempting to vindicate vital civil rights. A District Judge has ably put the point in an analogous context:

"At issue here is much more than the simple question of how much [plaintiff's] attorneys should receive as attorney fees. At issue is . . . continued full and vigorous commitment to this Nation's lofty, but as yet unfulfilled, agenda to make the promises of this land available to all citizens, without regard to race or sex or other impermissible characteristic. There are at least two ways to undermine this commitment. The first is open and direct: a repeal of this Nation's anti-discrimination laws. The second is more indirect and, for this reason, somewhat insidious: to deny victims of discrimination a means for redress by creating an economic market in which attorneys cannot afford to represent them and take their cases to court." Hidle v. Geneva County Bd. of Ed., 681 F. Supp. 752, 758-759 (MD Ala. 1988) (awarding attorney fees and expenses under Title VII)



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